Filmmaker Elliot London and Ronnie Kroell—a fashion model and reality television star—will be walking 921 miles from Chicago to New York over a period of 37 days. All for a good cause, the walk is taking place to raise awareness for increased bullying prevention efforts across the country. It will begin on October 5th at The Bean in Millennium Park in Chicago and end November 10th in New York City.
London and Kroell—co-founders of FRIEND MOVEMENT—were inspired to establish the organization in the wake of the suicide of Tyler Clementi. Clementi was a Rutgers University student who jumped to his death off of New York City’s George Washington Bridge. This occurred three years ago, after the young student was severely cyber-bullied by his dormitory roommate.
Clementi’s life, along with other victims, will be celebrated during the walk, with a purple ribbon being placed after each mile to honor their memories. The walk will include stops in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
“Tyler may have been a young gay man, but bullying does not discriminate. It affects people of all races, ages, religions, genders, sexualities, socio-economic backgrounds and more,” said London, a 32-year-old filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. “And the impact of bullying is profound. It can lead to a plethora of physical and psychological problems that can be life-long, in addition to suicide—which, by the way, is the number one cause of death among school and college students in the U.S.”
Earlier this week, an eight-year-old boy received media attention when he sent a letter to Santa begging for his help in getting kids to stop bullying his sister. London pointed out that every day the media has stories concerning bullying and its horrific and tragic effects, citing the example of a 12-year-old boy in Connecticut, who killed himself after being bullied in school.
The pair told press that they started the FRIEND MOVEMENT to turn the tables on bullying, by bringing a pro-friend solution to the table.
“Imagine if we all could be better friends to others around us, not to mention to ourselves. Imagine if we could rise up above fear, and stand up against injustice,” said Kroell. “If we all do our small part, then our communities, schools, homes and offices can become safer places.”
FRIEND MOVEMENT is partnering with The Tyler Clementi Foundation, GLSEN and GLAAD for the walk and to take a stand against bullying. FRIEND MOVEMENT also has the support of the NGLCC and dot429 organizations.
You can donate to the Movement’s Indigogo campaign to support the walk from Chicago to New York city here.